Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

1st May
written by Michelle

A few days ago my sister wrote a great post about Curly Hair Tips on her blog. She is smart, funny and finds some of the best recipes and drink mixes on the web. Seriously, check out her blog. Did I mention she also has GREAT hair…perhaps the best curls of anyone I know. And she knows how to take care of them.

In fact she taught me how to “do” my hair.

Let’s face it. My hair has always been “curly,” but I just never knew what to do with my curls. In high school I brushed them to form a weird frizzy wave and in college I cut them short and let it poof. Neither look was a winner.

See photo for evidence:

sisters circa 2003

sisters circa 2003: BEFORE curly hair help

Then one New Years Eve everything changed. My sisters and I were all in Santa Barbara and had decided we were going to go out this year instead of staying at home, falling asleep before the ball dropped.


sister circa 2010: and AFTER

Steph, introduced me to two things:

1) The right Shampoo  and Conditioner  (the main indigent you want to avoid is anything that ends in -SULFATE. It drys out curly hair, or really any hair, but it’s especially bad for curly hair folks)


2) The right technique (NO brushing, lots of scrunching, extra gentle)

And voilà. The results were instantly better.

Pregnancy has done a number on my curls. On good day they get swept back in  a pony tail; on a lazy day twirled into a messy bun. Neither of which is particularly flattering.

But whenever I take the time to wash my hair (hint: if you read her post you’ll learn, it’s NOT every day) and apply the right stuff and scrunch my curls I always think of my sister.

Thanks Steph!

10th April
written by Michelle

My Easter Sunday began with spilled sangria and ended with Pizza Hut. And somewhere between those two events I realized holidays may look different than what I’m used to.

Since getting married and living in a country different from the one where I grew up, I often find myself trying to re-create familiar traditions-especially for certain holidays. On Christmas morning I was adamant about making homemade cinnamon rolls because my mom used to make them every year. So with unopened wedding gifts and half-unpacked suitcases covering the floor and I set-out to make homemade cinnamon roles for Christmas. They didn’t taste like moms.

Growing up Easter was celebrated by wearing a new dress to church, eating a big family brunch and having the most orderly Easter egg hunt imaginable. My mom counted, color-coordinated and hid in height-appropriate places each of our  respective colored eggs.  I looked for the green ones, my sisters had the purple and yellow ones respectively and my brother had the blue ones. There was no fighting over who had more and no race to find them the fastest. We all had the same number, same contents.

For many years Easter has looked different. I spent one Easter on a road trip with my best friend. Another “singing” in the church choir at the request of the choir director who asked my roommate and I if we could smile and clap.

Easter is not really one of my favorite holidays, but for some reason this year all holidays feel important- including Easter. I fill the need to re-claim or re-create some tradition that we now do every Easter. I thought of my options. Riding a scooter gets in the way of my dress wearing capabilities and we don’t have any little ones in our lives yet who would appreciate the joys of colored eggs. I often have reflected on the meaning of Easter, but sometimes have a hard time going to church. I suggested to G that we host a brunch. I found two recipes I had been wanting to try and we invited friends over.  I started baking the day before. Lemon Blackberry cake done. Vegetable Strata in the fridge waiting to be baked. And the sangria was mixed with cut-up fruit floating on top.

Everything was ready.

Until, exactly T-2 hours before people were supposed to arrive, I spilled the entire pitcher of sangria.

Red juice ran under the fridge, across the kitchen and splattered on my flip-flops. I groaned in pure frustration. I couldn’t be mad at anyone because it was my fault, so I became very angry at the pitcher. G, who handles all changes and most emergencies with a quick calmness, grabbed a mop for the floor and a towel for my feet. He volunteered to go to the store for the second round of OJ and wine, before I even asked.

I put the strata in the oven and paper plates on the table. Two friends came early to help set-up and keep the flies away from the food. Another couple came with their three little kids and a few more strolled in later in the afternoon. The boys played fútbol with the kids at the park behind out house, the ladies sat and talked and took turns passing around the adorable baby.  It wasn’t exactly family brunch; it was something different. It was good.

Perhaps, it will become a new tradition.

However, not sure about dinner at Pizza Hut.

But then again, Easter in Guatemala may look different. Sangria and Pizza Hut, why not?

•   •   •

Just for the record this is how Easter’s used to look:

I love ’em. And now that we all live in different time zones we blog. yep, all of us (sans the parents).

You can follow Steph here, Christine here and my brother, Andrew here. I think they’re are pretty fabulous. I mean in three clicks you can get recipes, fashion and pop culture, Italian mafia secrets and a inside look at the business world. enjoy.

21st June
written by Michelle

If they say you can measure your wealth in friends, than I feel like I am one of world’s wealthiest.

I just came back from a whirlwind trip to California where I learned the difference between a sample show and a trunk show in the wedding world. I learned that if you ever move overseas, you should sell your stuff before you go. And that every season of life, whether single or married, staying put or moving, engaged or divorced…


we. need. good. friends. [period]

There is something important and significant about having good friends. I mean, we don’t choose our families*, but we do choose our friends. And last week I was once again reminded what good friends I have!

(*don’t worry family, I would choose you guys, but this is a post about friends. You deserve your own post some day!)


I had friends who took me to breakfast and said “my treat.” Friends who drove to my storage unit just to bring me a latte. I had friends who celebrated me and the recent engagement, and others who sat and listened to my fears and worries about what’s next.


I had friends who gave their time, two hands and an extra trunk to help load up boxes. Friends who endured 5 hours on so cal freeways just to come to a dress fitting with me. I had friends who let me take over their living room with boxes, clothes, dishes and basically everything I ever owned. I had friends who helped make “Moving Sale” signs and other friends who sat with me and gave me that you-gottta-get-rid-of-that face.


I had friends who lent me a phone for the week and a bed to sleep in. Friends who prayed for me. And friends who brought me a #10 sandwich from Panino. And I had friends who woke up at the ungodly hour of 5am on a Saturday to help set up for a garage sale and others who stopped by to just say hello.

These are the kind of friends that make life rich. And these are the kind of friends that I often miss in Guatemala.

These are the kind of friends that I want to be for other people. A friend who can help with the practical, leave room for the emotional and simply show up when needed.

Thank you, dear friends. I am wealthy because you are in my life!


30th December
written by Michelle

My family has vacationed out in Palm Desert almost every year since I was barely able to read. Thanks to Grandma’s condo and the completion of the 210 freeway, “the Desert” as we call it, quickly became our go-to, easy, vacation spot.

(point of reference: Palm Desert is located 10 miles east of Palm Springs and right in the middle of Retirement central. The median age is somewhere close to 65 and there are probably more golf courses and palm trees than they are people. really. Not exactly the most kid friendly place)

When we were younger the best part by far was the abundance of swimming pools. And when it’s 100 plus degrees outside and you’re under the age of 14 the only thing there really is to do out there is: go swimming. So that’s what we did. And every day we would “pool hop” to one of the gzillion pools around the country club.

Somewhere in time we crossed over to the adult, albeit boring side of life, where we neglected the “pool hopping” and swimming days of our youth and replaced it with sun bathing and chaise lounge-ing. And that is exactly what we did this vacation. Sat. Read. Napped. Ate. And relaxed by the pool. This is all wonderful and serene and peaceful, until some little eager kid, complete with floaties and goggles yells, “watch me, watch me.” And then the dutiful, doting parent lifts their head and watches for that magical moment as the darling child jumps off the edge into the water. Followed by the usual, monotone response “hmm. oh wow, honey.”

And then the cycle repeats. Mom, mom. Watch me. Parent sighs. Looks up. Watches. Child completes the less than impressive feat. Parent gives an ooooo and awwwww. and then again. Here we go. On Monday my sisters and I sat at the pool and were victims to this continuous cycle as two little girls, who under normal circumstances would have been considered quite cute, bickered and badgered to demand their mom’s attention.

Mom, watch me. Watch me.

Now, I am sure I did this as a kid. I am sure I repeatedly yelled, “Mom, watch me. Watch me” as I attempted what felt like very significant accomplishments at the time (e.g. diving off the edge of the pool or holding my breath under water for more than 15 seconds). In fact I cannot imagine what it was like for my parents to have four little voices yelling at once, watch me. no watch me. no, watch me. Each one of us expecting attention and praise; each one of us expressing this deep desire to be noticed and watched.

I cannot remember the last time I actually said to one of my parents, hey watch me. watch me. Maybe as we get older our obvious need for constant affirmation and attention for the impressive tricks we do at the pool diminishes. But sometimes I wonder if there is still some part of me that longs for someone to affirm me and notice who I am or what I do.

Obviously I don’t walk down the street or parade through the school hallway, yelling at people to “watch me. watch me.” That would just be weird. And annoying. I think part of what it means to grow-up is to develop a healthy sense of self that is not completely contingent on fickle praise or attention that we may or may not receive. However, I sometimes wonder if in this “growing-up” process we also lose touch with our basic human need for affirmation.

I believe there is there some deep part of everyone
(yes, everyone…the young, old, adolescent, single, married, etc.) that is saying “watch me.” Some people may demand it bluntly and boldly, commanding attention from a group as they speak from the stage. They’re talking about politics and policies, but really they’re saying, “watch me.” Other people elicit it in more mysterious, subtle ways. They wrap themselves in culture, books and art and then drape a beautiful scarf around their shoulders. On the outside they are conveying a cautious smile and gentle eyes, but really they’re saying, “watch me.”

I think somewhere along the way, somewhere between play days in the pool and the adult world I now inhabit, I have been socialized to believe that we should be humble and not demand people’s attention (and there is definitely some truth to that) but I think sometimes we miss the whole picture. I am not advocating for more self-centered, attention-seeking people to come claim their glory in the limelight. No, not at all. On the contrary I am learning that there is something very healthy and I believe good about being able to both watch others and with it offer a sincerity of praise and affirmation and yet, still also learn how to ask, “watch me?”

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